There have been many changes to the divorce laws in the past few years, and more changes coming.
The biggest change in 2016 is that the Legislature passed laws that eliminated the term “custody.” Custody traditionally has defined the relative parental decision-maker over a child’s religious, health and educational well-being. Joint custody meant that parents shared equally in that decision-making process. Sole custody meant that one parent held all of that ability.
While people continue to use this language, the proper language is now allocation of parental responsibility. This concept refers to a parent’s or both parents’ relative input into a child’s religious, education, medical, and extra-curricular experiences. A parent can be awarded final decision-making (somewhat akin to sole custody). Parents also can agree or be awarded equal decision-making (similar to the concept of joint custody). Sometimes, one parent may have more decision-making authority in one area, while another parent may have that authority in another area.
All of these changes may seem overwhelming. But, in practice, the parents and/or the Court are still fundamentally addressing the same issues they always have, which is what is in the best interests of the child or children, and how much of a role should each parent have in making decisions for the child or children.
At Solutions First, we help our clients navigate these changes in the law and still pursue what they feel is best for their child or children. That is our job as their advocates, and no matter the recent legal changes, our commitment to that goal has remained constant.
As for the topic of child support, child support is generally paid by the parent with less time. In general (and there are many exceptions, the parent with a majority of parental time, receives a percentage of the other parent’s take home pay. “Take home” pay is defined in the Illinois divorce statutes and consists of all income minus state and federal taxes, Social Security and Medicare payments, mandatory retirement contributions, union dues, healthcare premiums, and prior child support obligations. Child support is intended to pay for support and educational expenses of the child, and is not typically calculated to cover “extra” expenses, such as extracurricular activities, though medical expenses and child care expenses may be shared by both parents.
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Child support is to be in effect until a child reaches the age of 19. If the child becomes emancipated before then, child support may possibly be modified or discontinued at that point. However, child support may extend beyond the age of 19 if the child is a student, enrolled in college, or is medically dependent or disabled. It’s important to bear in mind, however, that any modification of child support must be accompanied by a court order. Neither parent may modify child support because they simply deem it necessary or appropriate, and any attempts to do so could result in contempt of court. Whether you are the custodial or non-custodial parent, a Solutions First lawyer can help you navigate your child support situation while maintaining focus on the best interests of the children.
Often times, the only way to compel a parent to pay child support is to have your child support lawyer petition (or formally ask the court) to enter an order requiring child support payments. This is frequently the case between unmarried parents, but no situation is immune to the need for a petition of child support. It’s important to understand, however, that the longer one waits to initiate this formal request, the greater the risk that the ultimate amount received will be less than desired.
It is also important to understand what is and is not considered child support. It is also important to know when courts will allow for above or below the standard child support amounts. If you’re having difficulty with child support payments, either making them or receiving them, the more educated you become and the sooner you act, the better your chances are for a positive outcome. At Solutions First, we can offer immeasurable assistance with regard to child support and will do so in a manner to support your actions that are in the best interests of the children.
Difficulty with child support, unfortunately, is a fairly common scenario in throughout Illinois. At Solutions First, you will find a child support lawyer who stands ready to aggressively pursue action on your child support case. To reach an experienced child support attorney in Chicago, call 312.386.1467 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to begin the conversation. Our Chicago child support attorneys will do everything within their power to ensure that your child support order is sufficient and just.